NFL player and LGBT trailblazer Michael Sam to speak at Vanderbilt

Michael Sam
Michael Sam

Michael Sam, an American football defensive end who made history when he came out as gay ahead of the 2014 NFL draft, making him the first openly LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport, will speak at Vanderbilt University Thursday, Feb. 16, as part of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

Sam will discuss “From Hitchcock High to the NFL” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema. A reception will precede the talk from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Sarratt Cinema lobby. Both events are free and open to the public, but tickets are required to attend the lecture. The free tickets are limited to two per person and must be picked up in advance of the lecture at the Sarratt Student Center Box Office. Tickets, which will be available beginning Jan. 30, cannot be reserved or mailed. For box office hours of operation and additional information, call (615) 343-3361.

Hailing from a tiny Texas town and the seventh of eight children, Sam endured a childhood filled with adversity. He spent a portion of his youth living in a car with his mother and developed a steadfast determination to make a better life for himself, identifying sports as his way out.

Sam went from water boy on his local high school team to star player, earning first-team All-District honors four years in a row. Presented with scholarship offers from several leading schools, Sam chose the University of Missouri, where he thrived and was named a first-team All-American and the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

After coming out as gay during an ESPN interview, Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the 249th of 256 players selected. He is currently an NFL free agent.

In 2014, he was named one of GQ magazine’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, and was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs.

Parking for the Feb. 16 event will be available in the Terrace Place Garage, located on Terrace Place between 21st Avenue South and 20th Avenue North.

The Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series strives to connect the university and the Nashville community with intellectuals who are shaping our world. For more information about the series, visit the Chancellor’s Lecture Series website, email, call (615) 322-0885, or follow on Twitter @VUCLS.